Discovering identity through art: Jen's story

Photography by  Michal Daniel

Photography by Michal Daniel


As a Korean adoptee raised in North Dakota, I grew up with no reference for Asian American culture, community, or identity. An aspiring actor, I found my way to Minneapolis and Theater Mu. Mu gave me an opportunity to grow as an artist, see myself reflected on stage, and most importantly, to connect with other Asian American artists. I found a new family and a new sense of pride and belonging.

Skip ahead a few years where I am watching Rick Shiomi play taiko at a Mu event. He performs a short excerpt of “Matsuri” on a single taiko drum. Mind blown. I’d never heard or seen anything like it before, never knew it even existed. Taiko quickly replaced acting as my main passion, and I evolved from an eager taiko student to performer, teacher, composer, and now leader. 

Taiko allows me to become a bigger, better version of myself. It integrates my mind, body and spirit. It allows me to embody strength, grace, and to claim and celebrate my “Asian-ness". Taiko has brought into my life the people I hold most dear, and gave me chance to become the person I didn’t know I wanted to be.